In an interview with the media today, McLaren-Honda driver Fernando Alonso believes that the limitations of testing in Formula 1 puts teams in a difficult position to gain ground on rivals throughout a season.
Full-scale in-season testing has been forbidden in Formula One since the beginning of 2009 and was to clamp down on excessive spending by teams and also with pre-season testing also experiencing a decrease over the past several seasons and is now to be reduced to only two tests in 2016 from three this year.
Although testing throughout a season returned to the sport in 2012; albeit the number of tests still being capped. In an interview with the media today, Alonso believes that the current testing restrictions is the main reason for a team like Manor or McLaren (who have both grappled with persistent reliability and performance troubles this season); being unable to fully get on top of their issues and move up the pecking order. Alonso said the following:-
‘Before we had some freedom in terms of testing and improving the car, so if you found your car was not competitive in the first quarter of the season you then planned some solutions and maybe you ended the year in a competitive way.
‘Now, the Mercedes will win all the races and the Manor will be last at all the races and we have our hands tied for the season.
‘So when we go testing in Barcelona or Jerez for the first test, we are tossing a coin in the air and if the car is competitive you will have a good season and if it’s not competitive you will have a bad season.’
Even though I see Alonso’s perspective in what he has stated in his interview to the media today, the rising costs of competing never mind winning the sport has risen over the past few years due to the economic climate which therefore impacts on how teams test pre-season and also during the season in the sport.
And the sport does not want to lose anymore teams in the sport; so they are doing what they can to try and help keep costs down for the teams as much as possible, even though I feel personally that more could have been done about the situation sooner.
But I do feel as a fan that more testing would be great as it would give us more action during the season but also it would give the teams such as McLaren-Honda more opportunity to test out their car fully and work on suggestions for improvement which could then translate to the track as quickly as possible.
Overall, while I understand Alonso’s frustrations, there is nothing that he can do but to just go along with the regulations as they stand at the moment and get the best of the equipment that he has been given for the season; even if the season is really bad. At the end of the day, all he and McLaren-Honda team can do for the remainder of the season is build upon what they have achieved this season, learn their lessons from what’s happened this year and ensure these are not repeated for the 2016 season.
As Alonso is right in saying that their teams hands are “tied”, but until Formula One gets to a level where competing in the sport is suitable and achievable for everyone money wise, this situation is likely to remain for quite some time; even if he and the fans like it or not.